Extinction Rebellion activists have hijacked the Cenotaph on Remembrance Day in a ‘truly shameful’ climate change stunt.
Eco-warriors trampled over wreaths and unveiled a banner reading ‘Honour Their Sacrifice, Climate Change Means War’ at the memorial on Whitehall, central London, at 8am.
Former soldier Donald Bell led the protest as he held a two-minute silence before hanging his own wreath with the words ‘climate change means war, act now’.
The Metropolitan Police, which later swooped and took down the message, could be seen parked near the Cenotaph but did nothing to stop the protesters.
The was in stark contrast to Sunday when officers pushed Scots Guard veteran bagpiper Ben Buckland to the ground when he marched at the police barricade guarding the memorial.
It comes as homes across the UK fell silent in remembrance of the nation’s war dead on Armistice Day, as the coronavirus pandemic limited public commemorations.
People were asked not to gather at the Cenotaph for Remembrance Day – to stop the spread of Covid-19 – but the brazen XR demonstrators ignored the request.
The move was branded ‘cowardly’, ‘truly shameful’ and showing ‘no respect’ by veterans and social media users who stuck to the government’s restrictions.
Extinction Rebellion activists have hijacked the Cenotaph on Remembrance Day in a ‘truly shameful’ climate change stunt
Eco-warriors unveiled a banner reading ‘Honour Their Sacrifice, Climate Change Means War’ at the memorial on Whitehall, central London, at 8am
The 64-year-old said he wanted to highlight how climate change could cause more wars’
Mr Bell (right) said: ‘I took action today knowing that I would be criticised. I knew that I would be accused of being disrespectful and hated by many for speaking out in this way’
Metropolitan Police later swooped in and removed the protest from the monument in Whitehall
Veteran who survived IRA car bomb in 1974: The XR activist behind controversial protest at the Cenotaph
Former infantryman Donald Bell
As a young infantryman in the British Army, he was hit by shrapnel from an IRA car bomb that killed two other soldiers in Stewartstown in 1974.
Mr Bell completed four tours of duty with the Royal Anglican Regiment.
These days, he is fighting climate change.
In February, he was seen digging up the lawn at Cambridge’s Trinity College and was later arrested after gluing himself to a police van, telling reporters he had been writing letters to the Government for nearly 50 years but was always ignored.
He said: ‘We had to be more disruptive. I just felt compelled to do something for my children and grandchildren.’
Mr Bell, 64, said he wanted to highlight how climate change could cause more wars.
He said: ‘I took action today knowing that I would be criticised. I knew that I would be accused of being disrespectful and hated by many for speaking out in this way.
‘Remembrance Day is never an easy time for veterans and this was not an easy decision for me to make.
‘But I served this country, I served the people of this country and the action I took today is about just that.
‘Unchecked climate change means a return to a world at war. I cannot stand by and let that happen. It is my duty to act.
‘This government’s own climate advisors, the committee on climate change, said last year that they have a ‘Dad’s Army’ approach to protecting British people from the impacts of climate change.
‘Their report in June this year showed that the government has failed to meet all but two of the 31 milestones it set itself for reducing emissions.
‘This government is criminally negligent and young people today will pay the price for their failure.
‘I did four tours in Northern Ireland. I have been in conflict. I saw good friends – my comrades, who I served with – die.
‘Many of the people who attend the Remembrance Day Service have never seen the horrors of war. I hope they never have to.
‘However you feel about the action today, I want people to take this message – if we don’t deal with this climate emergency, now, it will lead to war.’
XR said in a post on its website: ‘The action aims to highlight the connection between rising global temperatures and an increase in the incidence of conflict and war.
‘Research commissioned by the Ministry of Defence published in June this year points to a ”growing recognition that climate change may aggravate existing threats to international peace and security”.’
XR said in a post on its website: ‘The action aims to highlight the connection between rising global temperatures and an increase in the incidence of conflict and war’
The three-strong protesters bow their heads during their demonstration at the Cenotaph today
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Around 12 protesters were arrested after undressing and gluing themselves to the glass in the House of Commons viewing gallery during a debate on Brexit.
Thousands gathered in Oxford Circus, Marble Arch, Waterloo Bridge and the area around Parliament Square.
Five activists, including XR co-founder Simon Bramwell, were arrested for criminal damage when they targeted Shell’s headquarters, near Waterloo.
On the second day of actions on Waterloo Bridge police started arresting people at 12.40 pm, but stopped a few hours later when the force ran out of holding cells.
By the end of the day an estimated 500,000 people had been affected by the disruptions and 290 activists had been arrested in London.
Two activists climbed onto the roof of a Docklands Light Railway train at Canary Wharf station whilst another glued himself to the side, spreading disruption to railway services.
A large force of police marched on the camp at Parliament Square, arresting people and partially removing roadblocks before it was retaken later the same night by protesters.
Some 428 people had been arrested at this point.
A dozen teenagers, some aged 13 and 14, walked to the Healthrow access road holding a banner which read ‘Are we the last generation?’ They were surrounded by police.
By late that evening 682 people had so far been arrested in London during the course of the demonstrations.
London Stock Exchange is blockaded by protestors who glued themselved to the entrance while wearing LED signs.
Four protesters climbed on to a Docklands Light Railway train at Canary Wharf.
Activists gathered at Hyde Park to mark an end to the 11-day protest.
JULY 13 – 14
A weekend of protest in east London included a mass bike ride, traffic blockades and talks at London Fields.
London Fashion Week was targetted with Victoria Beckham’s show interupted by a swarm of demonstrators.
200 people gathered for a ‘funeral march’ from a H&M in Trafalgar Square to a fashion week venue in The Strand.
Tried to blockade the Port of Dover by marching on the A20.
Fire engine was used to spray fake blood around HM Treasury in central London.
Opening ceremony held at Marble Arch was attended by a thousand protesters.
Thousands of people blocked central London with various demonstrations.
Half a dozen activists dressed in yellow-and-black bee outfits held an action during the Liberal Democrats election campaign in Streatham, south London.
Activists blockaded a central London road to demand the next government tackles air pollution in London.
Extinction Rebellion members of the University of Cambridge assembled to dig up a patch of lawn outside of Trinity College.
It added: ‘The action today calls on the government to act to avert the increase in unrest, conflict and war anticipated by the Ministry of Defence report.
‘The Committee on Climate Change – which advises the government on emissions reduction and reports on their progress – revealed in June this year that the government had reached only two of it’s 31 milestones and was on track with only four of the 21 indicators identified on the path to zero emissions.
‘The action makes the point that, in this context, speaking up about consequences of unchecked warning is an act of remembrance.’
The XR protesters put up the banner and wreath without being challenged by police.
It was in stark contrast to Remembrance Sunday when Scots Guard veteran bagpiper Ben Buckland, 47, a veteran from Romford, East London, was filmed being pushed to the ground when he marched at the police barricade guarding the Cenotaph.
He was seen stumbling backwards before falling to the ground and provoking uproar among other members of the public who were in front of the police line with him.
But a separate video has since emerged showing the piper bragging, ‘sometimes you have to sometimes create to get what you want’ as he admits that ‘I actually did it. I provoked them.’
Met Police confirmed Mr Buckland, who has worked in security and runs an anti-poaching unit, was arrested on suspicion of common assault on an emergency worker.
XR’s latest stunt came as homes across the UK fell silent in remembrance of the nation’s war dead on Armistice Day, as the coronavirus pandemic limits public commemorations.
People were encouraged to pause on their doorsteps or by windows for the traditional two minutes silence at 11am on Wednesday.
Covid-19 related-restrictions on gatherings and travel have disrupted remembrance events this year, forcing last weekend’s Remembrance Sunday service at the Cenotaph to be scaled back.
XR’s stunt was met with fury among veterans and online as social media users branded the group ‘truly shameful’.
One person wrote: ‘Truly shameful: Extinction Rebellion have placed a ‘climate change means war’ wreath upon the Cenotaph.
‘These privileged prats seem to be doing all they can to turn public opinion against them.’
Another person added: ‘There is a place and a time….and THIS ISN’T IT.
‘Were it not for those who fought & died….these self righteous ‘woke’ extinction rebellion lot wouldn’t even see light or day!
‘IT’S THAT SIMPLE! Hence….’NO RESPECT’.’
Another person wrote: ‘Extinction Rebellion really know how to lose support for their cause.
‘Their members are now designated to the rank of scum. They need a new PR representative.’
Jake Wright posted: ‘I bet London police will do nothing at all about the disgusting behaviour extinction rebellion are doing today with there protest at the cenotaph in London, London protests.’
One woman put: ‘Extinction Rebellion activists hijack the Cenotaph on Remembrance Day in climate change protest. Are you serious. No Remembrance Day for the rest of us but this is allowed?? You disgust me, shame on you.’
Another said: ‘Can’t believe that bourgeois Extinction Rebellion group hung this ‘Climate Change is War’ banner on the Cenotaph on Remembrance Day. No respect at all. They should be ashamed.’
One account commented: ‘Cowardly Scum. Extinction Rebellion activists hijack the Cenotaph on Remembrance Day in climate change protest.’
Another said online: ‘Can you think of more insult to the nation & to the sacrifices of the dead than the action by those spoilt brats?))Extinction Rebellion activists hijack the Cenotaph on Remembrance Day in climate change protest.’
Brian Higginson added: ‘Truly shameful: Extinction Rebellion have placed a ‘climate change means war’ wreath upon the Cenotaph. Pure scum.’
Veterans were reduce to spending Armistice Day at home today due to the coronavirus restrictions.
An invitation-only service due to be held at London’s Westminster Abbey on Wednesday marked the centenary of the burial of the Unknown Warrior.
The televised service, to be attended by the Prince of Wales and Duchess of Cornwall, will commemorate the funeral of an unknown British serviceman whose body was brought back from Northern France.
He was buried at the west end of the abbey’s nave on November 11 2020 to represent all those who lost their lives in the First World War but whose place of death was unknown or body never found.
Poet Laureate Simon Armitage has written a new poem, entitled ‘The Bed’, which commemorates the 100th anniversary of that burial.
The poem charts how the fallen soldier is transported from being ‘broken and sleeping rough in a dirt grave’ to being buried ‘among drowsing poets and dozing saints’.
It concludes: ‘All this for a soul, without name or rank or age or home, because you are the son we lost, and your rest is ours.’
Each year the two minutes Armistice Day silence marks the end of that four-year conflict, after an agreement between Germany and the Allies took effect at the ’11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month’ of 1918.
The service and silence will be broadcast live on BBC One from 10:30am and will be lead by the Dean of Westminster, The Very Reverend Dr David Hoyle.
It will also feature an address from the Archbishop of Canterbury, The Most Reverend and Rt Hon Justin Welby.
Chief of the defence staff, the professional head of the armed forces, General Sir Nick Carter said: ‘The burial one hundred years ago of the Unknown Warrior was a seminal moment for the British people.
‘To many of those who stood in silence or who made the pilgrimage to Westminster, he was not unknown at all.
‘His very anonymity meant that he was the father, husband, son or brother who never came home from the war.
‘Today the Tomb of the Unknown Warrior reminds us all that war has a cost and that we should never forget those who sacrificed their lives for our free and open way of life.’
Wednesday also marks 100 years since the inauguration of the permanent version of Cenotaph memorial on Whitehall in central London.
A troop of the Household Cavalry pay their respects in the early morning at the Cenotaph
Defence Secretary Ben Wallace said: ‘The centenary of the unveiling of the Cenotaph and the burial of the Unknown Warrior are a poignant reminder of the scale of loss suffered in the First World War and the continued importance of coming together as a nation to remember all those who have sacrificed their lives for this country’
Elsewhere on Wednesday, more than 100 poppy wreaths will be placed on board early-morning train services heading to London
Wednesday also marks 100 years since the inauguration of the permanent version of Cenotaph memorial on Whitehall in central London
Mounted police officers pass the Cenotaph with wreaths on it in Whitehall, in central London, today
A troop of the Household Cavalry pay their respects in the early morning today at the Cenotaph
Defence Secretary Ben Wallace said: ‘The centenary of the unveiling of the Cenotaph and the burial of the Unknown Warrior are a poignant reminder of the scale of loss suffered in the First World War and the continued importance of coming together as a nation to remember all those who have sacrificed their lives for this country.’
Elsewhere on Wednesday, more than 100 poppy wreaths will be placed on board early-morning train services heading to London.
Great Western Railway has joined forces with military charities, local authorities and military bases for the ‘Poppies to Paddington’ operation which will involve nine train services and more than 60 stations on its network.
On arrival to Paddington station, the wreaths will be placed at its war memorial on platform one in time for 11am.
Towards the end of the day, people are also being encouraged to look to the night sky from their homes in another collective moment of remembrance.
The Commonwealth War Graves Commission (CWGC), which cares for war memorials and cemeteries around the world, is calling on the public to take a moment to look up at the stars at 7pm.
Last month XR were blasted for going to Sir David Attenborough’s home before being turned away by his daughter who said they were shielding from Covid-19.
Eco-warriors delivered a letter and ‘gifts’ including an olive tree to the naturalist’s home in Richmond yesterday after he warned protesters not to break the law
Extinction Rebellion protestors block access of a printing house in Broxbourne, Hertfordshire, leaving some newsagents’ shelves empty on Saturday morning
They delivered a ‘starter pack on how to engage in civil disobedience’ to his house in Richmond, west London, after he warned them not to break the law.
They said the 94-year-old’s influence and comments ‘are contributing to the erasure of the voices and sacrifices of front-line earth protectors around the world’.
The four women and two men said they hoped to drop off the delivery in person so it came across ‘like a friend to a friend wanting to reach him where he lives’.
But they were told by Sir David’s daughter Susan he would not open the door amid the coronavirus pandemic.
In September protesters blockaded printworks for national newspapers, with one of the demonstrators claiming the British media was worse than the Nazis.
More than 100 protesters targeted Newsprinters printing works at Broxbourne, Hertfordshire, and Knowsley, near Liverpool, blocking newspapers from leaving.
Donnachadh McCarthy, 61, emerged as one of the leading figures in the group, and justified the attack by saying: ‘This is like World War Two and you guys [the newspapers] are on the other side. That is how we see it.
‘It puts you on the side of the existential threat. It is a different existential threat but it is a bigger one than the Nazis.’
What is Extinction Rebellion and what do they want?
‘Extinction Rebellion is an international movement that uses non-violent civil disobedience in an attempt to halt mass extinction and the risk of social collapse,’ according to its website’s ‘about’ page.
The environmentalist protest group held its first demonstration in Parliament Square on October 31, 2018.
The worldwide group want to change the structure of power to take authority away from central governments.
Its website reads: ‘We understand that we must self-organise to meet our own needs, which in the context of Extinction Rebellion means that we are working to equalise power by disrupting the usual pillars of power that govern our lives.’
The environmentalist protest group held its first demonstration in Parliament Square on October 31, 2018
Since 2018 members of the group have gathered at London Fashion Week, the House of Commons and various other locations around central London.
On the morning of Wednesday, April 17, 2019, two activists climbed onto the roof of a Docklands Light Railway train at Canary Wharf station whilst another glued himself to the side, spreading disruption to railway services.
The following day the three activists were charged with obstructing trains. After pleading not guilty they were sent to jail for four weeks, with no bail, whilst awaiting their next hearing.
On February 17 2020, Extinction Rebellion members of the University of Cambridge dug up a patch of lawn outside Trinity College, as a protest against its investment in oil and gas companies. The mud dug up was later taken to a local branch of Halifax.